How to Write an Obituary

How to Write a Compelling Obituary

The purpose of an obituary is to announce a person’s death with a brief summary of their life and to inform people about any planned funeral services. In a local newspaper, both in print and online, obituaries can be published for any local resident upon their death. Rather than just being a sad announcement, obituaries are now being used as a way to celebrate the life of the person who has passed away with a short story to help keep their memory alive.

1. Check Local Newspaper in Print and Online

Before you start writing your obituary, check out the requirements for having it published in your local paper. Many news publications have specific guidelines on the style and length of the obituary, and it’s possible that they may only accept an obituary if it’s written by one of their editorial staff or submitted directly from a funeral home. Most funeral homes can provide obituary templates that you can use as a guideline, and they may even cover the cost of publishing the obituary, online obituary, and obituary search as part of the funeral services.

2. Announcement of Death/Biographical Information

Announcing the death of your loved one is the very first step in writing the obituary. Include their name, age, the city where they resided and the day and date of their death. You may also want to include the cause of death at the end of the announcement. Providing biographical information is an important part of the obituary and a great way to make it a compelling tribute to their life. Try to be as interesting and colorful as possible when crafting your story about your loved one, and be sure to incorporate some personality into your writing. Cover details such as their place of birth, marital life (if applicable), education and employment background, as well as their passions, hobbies and lifetime achievements.

3. Mention Surviving Family Members

It’s important to mention the deceased’s surviving family members along with any close family members who have preceded them in death. List the names and residences of their children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters and any other important family members that should be included, and be sure to list the name of their spouse if they had one. Many people are extremely attached to their pets, so you may consider adding their names to the list of surviving family members.

4. Memorial Services

If there are memorial services planned, be sure to include this information in the last part of the obituary. Provide the date, time and location where the services will be held, and be sure to indicate if the services happen to be private. If you would like memorial contributions to be made toward your family or to a specific charity that the deceased supported, rather than sending flowers, be sure to include these necessary details as well.

5. Proofread and Submit

Once you have finished writing your obituary, read it over a few times to make sure you like the tone and writing style, and check for any grammatical errors. It would also help to have another set of eyes proofread it as well for additional feedback or suggestions. Once you are satisfied with your obituary, the last step is to submit it to the funeral home or directly to the news publication.

Courtesy of YouCaring.com

Your End of Life Plan is the Gift of a Lifetime

End of Life Plan

Creating an End of Life Plan…

And Leaving the Gift of a Lifetime!

Sometimes I feel as if I am the only person in America who is speaking about one of the most important plans you can create, an End of Life Plan. The harsh reality is that very few individuals, families, or even financial professionals are regularly teaching, practicing, or implementing End of Life Plans.

Nothing Good Comes Easy

Why is that that more than 80% of people in America die without leaving behind their End of Life Plan and preferences?  I believe it is because these are the only types of plans that directly addresses death and dying.  Therefore, most people would prefer to overlook or ignore this type of conversation.  The problem is that, in doing so, you are leaving these matters to your spouse, children, and/or family members – to pile on top of what is already one of the most difficult times of their lives.

The fact of the matter is that an End of Life Plan should be a standard and routine part of a comprehensive financial  or retirement plan.  Period.  It is the missing piece to the financial services puzzle that needs to be fixed.

Fact:  Some Day You Will Die

Sure, the last thing any of us want to do is talk or think about is how to plan a funeral. And this is not just “a funeral”, but rather your own personal funeral.  So I get it.  I fully understand why an End of Life Plan is not such an easy and comfortable discussion.  However, some day every single one of us will die (hopefully later versus sooner), but we will die.  So this means that “someone” is going to be forced to deal with planning your End of Life Plan and preferences.

So ask yourself this question; “Would you rather take care of your final arrangements yourself, or leave it to your loved ones who are already suffering from the grief and loss of your death compounding insult to injury?”

We all know for a fact, with absolute certainty, that we are all going to die some day, right?  So why is it that most people are not talking about this?  Why are financial planners not learning the best ways to plan their clients and families for their inevitable death?  Why is it that, at the very least, everyone is not taking a few minutes to simply document their End of Life Plans and preferences for our loved ones?

 

Financial Planners Should Encourage an End of Life Plan

In addition to being the Founder of this website, I have worked as financial planner for over 23 years and currently own my own Wealth Management practice.

I mention this because, for the most part, the financial planning industry overlooks and ignores End of Life Plans, Pre Need Plans, and Final Expense Plans.  These plans are not widely-recognized as an all-important additions to a comprehensive financial and retirement plan.

To prove this point, here is a fact:  Prior to losing a loved one and experiencing how to plan a funeral myself, I had never heard some talked about this subject.  This includes all of my 20+ years of studying, training, attending classes, getting licenses and certifications, and more.

How About You and Your Financial Plan?

Has your financial planner discussed this with you? Does your financial plan include your End of Life Plans and preferences?  Are these details documented and written down in a safe place?  Do you currently have a plan in place for your pre-arranged funeral or cemetery arrangements?  Have you created a plan to specifically designate which monies will prepay funeral expenses and funeral costs?  Do the people you love know what you really want?  Have you notified them regarding the fact that you have taken care of these End of Life Plan details?  Do they know where these plans and details are located?

You are Not Alone

If you do not currently have an End of Life Plan in place, you are not alone.  Given my personal experience, I can tell you that losing my mother was, by far, the toughest day of my life. And like our situation, here is what happens in most cases.  Just about the time when it starts to “sink in” that your loved one is really gone, and your emotions begin to elevate, all of a sudden you find yourself sitting in a Funeral Home or Cemetery, reviewing all of their funeral home services and planning a funeral.  This is probably the last thing anyone wants to be doing during a difficult time like this. 

Just Some of the Funeral Planning Challenges

• How do you transport the body?  Where do you transport it?  How soon?
• What vital statistics do we need to gather, and how soon?
• How soon afterwards should the funeral and/or memorial service be?
• How do you determine which Funeral Home, Cemetery, or Funeral Director?
• What if the deceased lives out of town?
• Sitting down with a Funeral Director to review all the details and options
• Try to figure out what your loved one “would have wanted”
• Making some incredibly difficult financial decisions
• Trying to figure out what type of memorial service your loved one “would have wanted”
• Did they want to be cremation or traditional burial?
• Choosing among many different types of caskets or cremation urns
• Where should the final resting place of their body or ashes be?
• How do you coordinate this with your religion/Church?
• Who should be invited, and how do you invite them?
• Arranging travel and accommodation plans for out-of-town guests
• Who will give the funeral eulogyHow to give a eulogy?
• How will this be paid for?  Were there any burial insurance or funeral insurance policies?
• Who will speak at the memorial services? Which songs and prayers do you use?
• Do you have a gathering afterwards?
• How do you place an obituary? Who does this?
• Do you want funeral flowers or donations?
• Arranging funeral programs, sending “thank you” cards, and much more…

End of Life Plans Save Money

Another huge benefit to creating an End of Life Plan is that, in addition to saving your family from going through emotional challenges and making difficult decisions, you could very likely save your family thousands – or even millions – of dollars. The reason why is when someone dies, there are many financial matters that accompany the funeral planning such as funeral estate planning, estate taxes, death taxes, capital gains taxes, income taxes, insurance policy proceeds, investments, real estate, bank accounts, mortgages, other debts, and much more.

Plan Now – Don’t Wait!

A wise man once said, “The difference between failure and success is largely determined by the amount of time and preparation put into preparing for the future.”  By creating a solid End of Life Plan – and then adding this as a part of a sound and comprehensive financial plan – nothing could be further from the truth!

Christopher P. Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com

Funeral Etiquette

Funeral Etiquette

Funeral Etiquette for

the Family of the Deceased

It’s not always easy to know what to say or do at a time of loss. Just being there for a friend or family member can be a comfort. However, there is funeral etiquette to be followed when someone passes away. Customs for expressing sympathy vary according to religious and ethnic background. The following information is a suggested guideline for what is generally accepted during a funeral. It is best to be aware of expectations to avoid acting in an inappropriate manner.

When to Notify?

The immediate family should receive notification first, preferably in-person or by telephone, followed by the closest relatives and friends.    Be sure to provide the name and address of the funeral home for the delivery of funeral flowers.  The service details can be relayed later when available

Dress Code?

Though it is no longer necessary to dress in black, do show respect when picking out your funeral attire.  Conservative suits or dress-clothes, in dark, respectful colors are most appropriate.  It is advisable to avoid floral or busy patterns.

What are Typical Visitation Rights?

Upon learning of a death, it is customary for intimate friends of the family to visit the family either at their residence or funeral home.  It would probably be more comfortable for all concerned to meet and learn more about their funeral home services since they are fully prepared for visitors. Each family should decide the number of family members needed during calling hours.

It is also not necessary for family members to engage in long conversations; a simple “Thank you, it means so much to have friends like you at this time,” is adequate. If the casket is open during calling hours, some visitors may want to bid farewell to the deceased.  Although sometimes a visitor will request that a family member accompany them to view the body, it is not a requirement.

Funeral Service Duration?

Modern funeral or memorial services are usually brief and last approximately 30 minutes.

Cemetery Service Duration?

The graveside service tends to be brief.  Customarily, once the commitment ritual is complete and the casket has been lowered to ground level, the family typically departs.  The casket is then placed in a vault, interred, and funeral flowers placed on the grave.

What Typically Happens Immediately After the Memorial Service ?

Immediately after the funeral service, the family sometimes invites the attendees to join them for food or a reception at their home or designated place.  This gives everyone a chance to talk and provides some time to relax and refresh.  Sometimes friends or church members will take it upon themselves to prepare food ahead of time and relieve the family of this task.

How Should You Respond After the Funeral?

For several days after the service, the family should be permitted to rest and have time to handle the myriad details that accompany such an occasion.  While some families enjoy the diversion of visits and calls from friends and family, others prefer complete privacy.  It is not inconsiderate to cut short calls at this time.

What About Sending Thank You Notes?

Most Funeral Directors can supply you with generalized thank you cards or the family may choose to send a more personal thank you note.  The thank you notes should be a concise, personal, and specific.  Also, yielding to modern tradition, a simple thank you card with a signature is accepted, with or without a personal note

Who Should Get a Thank You Note?

1.   Anyone who sent a gift or card to the family deserves a thank you note.  This would include anyone who sent funeral flowers, brought food, sent a memorial contribution, or in some other substantial way acknowledged the deceased. The notes should be sent within two weeks of the death

2.   A personal note is suggested for thanking the clergy person.  If an offering or donation is sent, send it in a separate envelope.  Never include it in the thank you note

3.  Pallbearers should also be sent a personal message of thanks

4.  For individuals who sent funeral flowers, you may wish to send a personal note or sympathy card.  Including a sympathy poem or sympathy quote that expresses your feelings is always thoughtful.

5.  For groups or organizations that sent flowers, send a note to the head of the group and remember to include all the members of the group in your note.  If individual member names appear on the floral card, a separate note should be sent to each one but a personal message is not necessary.

6.  Friends who have volunteered their time and effort helping in any way deserve a separate written thank you.  If the volunteers are close to the family, you may prefer to thank them in person.

Funeral Etiquette for Friends and Distant Relatives

Upon Receiving the News ? When learning that a relative or friend has died, you should express your condolences and offer assistance as soon as possible. Only very close friends of the deceased and the immediate family are expected to visit the family before the funeral. Let the family know if you will be attending the funeral.  It is important to keep the conversation brief taking in account their emotional state of grief and loss, and that they will be receiving numerous similar calls.

Funeral Flowers Etiquette?

Unless the family asks that donations should be made in lieu of flowers, you should honor their request.  Many people consider it obligatory to send flowers unless there is a prohibitive note in the newspaper notice.

Thoughtful Memorial Gifts:

1.  Food for the Family? Food is always a welcome gift as there are always visitors around that need to be fed.  Make sure to prepare dishes that require little preparation.

2.  E-mail? E-mail is only appropriate from those who are not intimate with the family such as a business associate.

3.  Phone Calls? All calls should be as brief as possible.

4.  Mass Cards? If the deceased was a Catholic, some people will send a mass card instead of or in addition to flowers.  Catholics and non-Catholics can arrange for a mass to be said for the deceased

5.  Donation to Suggested Charity? Usually the family will designate a specific organization or charity.  Remember to provide the family’s name and address to the charity so they can send proper notification.  Often the funeral home will offer a direct link to the charity requested by the family

Dress Etiquette?

Though it is no longer necessary to dress in black, do show respect when picking out your funeral attire.  Conservative suits or dress-clothes, in dark, respectful colors are most appropriate.  It is advisable to avoid floral or busy patterns

When Paying Respects ?

It is traditional for friends to visit the funeral home prior to the day of the funeral or memorial service.  The obituary in the newspaper will have the details as to the day and time for visitations

Etiquette for Casket Viewing?

Before or after the service, friends will often go up to the casket for a final farewell. It is not obligatory and is totally left to your discretion

Attending the Service ?

It is suggested that one arrive at the funeral home at least ten minutes before the service begins.  Funeral services usually start on time and it is considered rude to be late.  Enter quietly and be seated.  Do not conduct an animated discussion in the chapel; the mood should be somber.  Do not try to talk with family members you feel are suffering from bereavement if you arrive early.  The first few rows are reserved for family members.  At the conclusion of the service, you will want to leave promptly and wait in your car if you plan to follow the procession to the cemetery.  Remember to turn your headlights on so you can be identified as being a part of the procession.  The headlights are to be turned off once you arrive at the cemetery.  Attending the graveside service is optional and is usually determined by the relationship between the individual and the bereaved family.

 

Funeral Planning is Turning to the Internet

Funeral Planning

Families are Searching the Internet for

Funeral Planning Help

Although nobody likes to talk about death or dying, the reality is there are thousands of people every day who are faced with one of the most difficult decisions they can make throughout their lifetime.  For most families faced with the need to plan a funeral, they almost always begin by searching for the answer to the following question: “What do we do now?”

To get answers regarding funeral planning information, more and more families are turning to the Internet, especially given today’s new funeral and memorial technology tools available today.

Here are some eye-opening statistics that should make Funeral Directors, Funeral Homes, and Cemeteries adjust their business plans to make sure they include an Internet presence:

•    83% of families today are turning to the Internet to plan a funeral
•    There are nearly 300 million funeral–related keyword searches each month on Google
•    87% of people will research a company online before doing business
•    84% of online reviews influence buying decisions
•    Last year those ages 50+ accessing the Internet grew by over 100%

At FuneralResources.com, we believe that a quality funeral planning resource should provide families the answers they are searching for, as well as easy access the credible funeral home services, people, and products they need and deserve.

How can funeral resources online accomplish this?  First, they must contain valuable and real-life articles, information, as well as funeral planning and end of life planning resources that help families who are planning a funeral or memorial service.  This information and resources should be specifically designed to help families learn, prepare, and become more educated and empowered.

Second, if a Funeral Professional chooses to become associated with an online funeral services provider, they should find one with a “Pre-Screened and Qualified™” process.  This exclusive process is designed to ensure that their Members meet specific criteria which will likely increase the confidence families have in determining the credibility as funeral professionals.

And third, they must have different funeral services directories for all of the various funeral services families are searching for to plan a funeral.  Member listings should be equipped with innovative funeral and memorial technology that includes important details such as their full contact information, website, services provided, driving directions, sending funeral flowers, obituary search, and more.  This offers families the ability to quickly and easily find these the most credible funeral services providers, as well as make sure these providers can set themselves apart from the other 20,000+ Funeral Homes, Cemeteries, and Crematories listed online.

This is a sensible model where both families and funeral professionals can benefit.  The families can receive help searching for the funeral planning information and qualified funeral professionals they need.  The funeral professionals can be “found” by more families who are searching for the all-important family services they provide.  However, this quality funeral planning online resource center has not existed – until now.

FuneralResources.com has filled the void and created a truly family-focused online resource center.  In addition, we have also created a “sister” resource center, www.memorialtechnology.com.  This new resource center is specifically designed to assist families who are searching for today’s new and innovative memorial technology options.  They new memorial technology tools can not only significantly help in the grief and loss process, but also enhance a families ability to heal and remember a loved one in a much more meaningful way.

We welcome and encourage all comments, feedback, input, and suggestions to (800) 379-2511 or info@funeralresources.com

Christopher P. Hill, Founder
FuneralResources.com and MemorialTechnology.com